Of course no visit to Peru would be complete without a visit to the capital, and as far as sightseeing goes Lima will not disappoint. Founded in 1535 by Francisco Pizarro it is widely regarded as a city of vast contrast. This is largely due to the fact that the vast and varied history that Peru has had manifests itself in so many places throughout the city. Countless museums and galleries as well as century old plazas and buildings can be found all over and despite the fact that it is not regarded as one of the prettier cities in Peru, the city centre is certainly worth visiting. Superb architecture combined with a warm, friendly atmosphere will make you glad you did.
And now on to another capital. Cuzco served as the capital of the Inca empire but as well as this it is regarded as the archaeological capital of the Americas, due largely to the fact that it is the city which has been continuously inhabited for the longest time. Huge stone walls which were built by the Incas line most of the city’s streets as well as forming the foundation of many of the modern buildings. Too solid to destroy, the Spanish had to build on top of the original structures. As well as this there are numerous museums, churches and ruins scattered throughout the city. Located south of the Valle Sagrado, the Sacred Valley of the Inca’s, Cuzco is also just a short distance away from the ruins of Sacsayhuaman, one of the most impressive sites in the area and also one of the biggest. Although only a fifth of the original structure remains, it is quite easy to envisage just how big it was before its destruction. Finally, the city also serves as the starting point for the world famous Inca Trail which includes the best known and most impressive archaeological site on the continent – Macchu Picchu, an entire city which lay buried for centuries.
In 1987 this city located in Northern Peru was the site of a major archaeological discovery. Just thirty kilometres southeast of the city centre the find, the most important in Peru for over half a century, unveiled the Huaca Rajada or Tomb of the Lord of Sipan. Home to hundreds of objects which were buried with the noble including those made of gold, silver and semi-precious stones as well as ceramic and metal, the tomb is still being excavated. Many of these spectacular artefacts can be seen at the Bruning Museum in Lambayeque just outside Chiclayo . As well as this site, however, the city is also just thirty five kilometres south of Tucume another archaeological treasure where you will see two hundred hectares of Inca ruins including twenty six pyramids and a host of plazas and other buildings.
Another city founded by the legend Pizzaro, Trujillo is a pleasant city to visit with its predominant shades of blue, white and yellow lending a relaxed and fresh appearnance. Many of the colonial buildings are still fully intact but among the main attractions are the ancient Inca ruins in the surrounding area. Dating from over 1500 years ago, the most impressive and most popular are Las Huacas del Soy y de la Luna or the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon and Chan Chan. The former are a series of temples which are the oldest pre-Columbian sculpture in Peru and originally consisted of some one hundred and forty million bricks while the latter is an entire city containing workshops, houses, temples and burial grounds all of which were decorated with mud moulding which has survived to the present day.
Known as the Switzerland of Peru, Huaraz is the mountaineering and hiking capital of the country. Lying over three thousand metres above sea level and with numerous glacial lakes and peaks which remain snow capped all year round, the scenery in the region is breathtaking. Huascaran, the highest mountain in Peru is only fourteen kilometers from the main road in Huaraz and while you might not manage all 6768 metres of the climb, any effort you do make will reveal views unlike those you have ever seen before. For the less energetic of you, however, you will be happy to learn that the area is also home to numerous archaeological sites. Among the most popular is Chavin, a pre-Inca stone temple which is almost three thousand years old, and lies about seventy miles from Huaraz but is well served by public transport.